You may not know the name Rhyan Lamarr because he’s mostly behind the scenes creating your favorite cinematic adventures. Well, you should get to know him. This screenwriter, director, producer, and visionary is the man behind the film “Canal Street,” “Restored Me,” and the Christian rap short film epic ‘Better Days’.
If you haven’t seen the film, ‘Better Days’ is a short film starring 1K Phew as the main lead. The film sees the rise and fall of Phew’s character as he finds himself in a number of life life-threatening situations. Ultimately, the ending of ‘Better Days’ is pretty shocking.
However, according to Lamarr, this is just the beginning of a “Christian rap cinematic universe” much like you’ve seen with all the Marvel movies.
“The entire ‘Avengers Endgame’ story was completely devoid of Christ. All that chaos in the world and nobody thinks of God,” Lamarr said. “So I said, ‘Why not? Why can’t we create that?’ You may call it superhero but you can call it other stuff too. In our world, we have Jesus Christ, a real superhero that walked this Earth.”
‘Better Days’ is actually episode one of a 10 part series. It was just a taste to let everyone see what’s coming. They will also be partnering up with a much bigger platform to drop the rest of the series.
“Being a light in a dark place is the core theme for the whole thing. It’s seeing common people do extraordinary things which is what they’re doing in everyday life now,” he explained. “You look at DC characters like Batman, he’s a regular person who’s called to do something greater than himself. Everyone is looking toward Better Days because the world is getting darker. It’s art imitating life.”
There are other parts being filmed right now and they will feature a who’s who of Christian hip-hop.
“I’m excited to see people come together and create. They are real-life superheroes. They bring thousands of people together for Christ. That’s something that not everyone can do. There’s only a handful of people in this world that can influence people for Christ that have been called and chosen at this time to do it.”
For Lamarr, creating in the Christian rap space brings him full circle. In fact, he states it saved his life!
“I grew up watching Michael Jackson music videos and waiting for the MTV countdown to hit one. The first time I saw a music video was for Erykah Badu and the Roots’ “You Got Me.” Black Thought was walking around and everyone was asleep but in the end, he was actually dead. I remember saying, ‘Dang, I wanna do a music video’.”
So that’s exactly what he did. Lamarr cut his teeth doing music videos and did about 20 in the cinematic style he fell in love with.
“I was a videographer for a traveling CHH tour. It was a transition phase for me. I left the church at 17, and went to college,” he shared. “There’s that time frame where we lose our youth. The pastors I grew up watching were in suits and from my perspective were very judgmental and pushed me away from the church when I was trying to learn. When I was in L.A. I got this gig to cover some acts. Not by Sight was from the Bay and they just so happened to be on that tour.”
He started listening to them and thought they sounded like rap, but not necessarily Christian. They introduced him to HOG MOB, GOM, Lecrae, and others.
“Man, if I had this when I was young, I would have never left the church. God gradually spoke to me and opened the door for me to seek God as an adult.”
This sparked the initial idea of this Christian rap universe. “It wasn’t time yet. It was a good idea but it wasn’t a God idea yet. I wasn’t there in my walk yet.”
Coincidentally, he met Andy Mineo, fresh off changing his name from C-Lite, and thought he’d be perfect for the role of his film. Obviously, things didn’t work out and Lamarr still had some building as a Christian to get through first.
All these years and a couple of movies later, he’s in the right spot to finally make this happen.
Lamarr and his Red Guerilla production group are now able to give an opportunity to Christian rap artists. “Canal Street” featured a major actor like Mekhi Phifer. FERN shared a scene with a solid actor like Jamie Hector. Angie Rose and Social Club Misfits were able to get in on the musical side with the latter appearing at the end of “Better Days” part one.
The artists know Rhyan Lamarr is orchestrating something they want to be a part of. FERN and Phew reached out to him about a year ago and asked if he ever needed anything for his films. The director said he never forgets statements like that.
“I had Andy in mind 10 years ago. Was introduced to Andy through a pastor in the Bronx who’s son did the photography on Heroes for Sale,” he shared. “It just didn’t work out and I moved on to do three other movies and became an adult.”
He continued, “I had worked with Phew in ‘Canal Street’ with Angie Rose and Charlamagne tha god. He had told me he wanted to act. I was listening to his songs and texted him asking, ‘What you doing for this song?’ Phew responded, ‘No, no, no, check this one out’. He sent me ‘Better Days’ and that’s when I got the whole vision for everything. We shot that and then shot Social Club.”
Episode two is when you see some of these other players in the story. By the end of episode two, he said it’s going to feel like a whole Avengers squad coming together.
Rhyan Lamarr said 1K Phew was a natural and a professional. He was on the Unashamed Tour, had a day off, finished the show, and grabbed a red-eye flight to L.A. at 5 a.m. The scene where Phew is on his knees pleading for his life in the desert is the first thing he ever filmed as an actor in his life.
“He just got right in,” revealed Lamarr. “He’s the perfect type of actor because he doesn’t have bad habits. He listened to directions and did it. We shot the entire thing in 10 hours, and he already had all his lines memorized. In episode two he does all his own stunts.”
The entirety of episode two was shot in Chicago and will be called ‘Better Days: Stay Down’.
Without ruining the surprise of what happens at the end of episode one, there’s less than a minute of CGI. In part two, the whole film will look like that and it was created by the team behind ‘Hobbs & Shaw’.
With the excitement behind the series, Rhyan Lamarr is able to take Christian rap into uncharted territories. He tells movie executives, producers, and other industry people – “You just have to come to a concert to experience it because you’ve never seen anything like it.”
“Andy Mineo, KB, and Social Club were out in the O.C. Around that time Ruslan and John Givez were there too. I brought out execs and their mouths were wide open. Of course, they wanted to figure out how to make money off of this.”
He continued, “How many bottles of liquor do you see? How many blunts do you see? Nothing is here, this is a sober crowd going hard for Christ. Tell me if Drake can do that to a sober crowd?”
“I’ve been able to start this conversation with people who influence millions of followers. I let the words do the talking and let God work.”
As far as what’s next for Rhyan Lamarr, he’s working on the Sean Bell story.
It’s a film told from both sides of the story. It goes higher than the cops and enters the story of the community. To him, it’s one of the most important projects that he’s working on.
Next is a football movie called ‘Hathaway’ for next year and a comedy called ‘North of the 10’ where filming starts at the top of next year.
Also, ‘Canal Street’ will be on BET this Christmas. They are dropping a mixtape for the movie called A Perfect Mess. There will be two singles coming out and “everyone is on it” he stated.
Stay tuned for ‘Better Days: Stay Down’ coming out in October. Be sure to watch part one to follow along on this journey. Special thanks to Rhyan Lamarr for sharing his vision with Rapzilla.